by Elise Schoening | November 21, 2019

Sustainability is becoming an expectation within the events industry. Planners are looking to make their meetings green from head to toe, by selecting sustainable venues, opting for locally sourced food and beverage, taking steps to reduce plastic and overall waste, and more.

"With climate change and sustainability being in the spotlight not only within the industry, but across the globe, event organizers and meeting planners are becoming much more conscious of their environmental footprint," said Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC, in a recent Northstar Meetings Group story.

When working to make their events more eco-conscious, meeting planners can go a step further by evaluating the group activities available. Below are a few sustainable suggestions to consider in the new year. 

1. Take a Bike Tour

What better way to see a city than by pedaling? Bike tours get attendees outdoors and offer a ground-level view of the meeting destination and its top attractions. For instance, in Nashville, guests can ride their way through Music City's scenic streets and stop to enjoy Southern cuisine. Those attending a meeting in Napa Valley can take advantage of the 47-mile Vine Trail, with a number of wineries and tasting rooms dotted along the way.

2. Visit a Nature Conservancy

Sometimes the best part of travel is seeing the destination's natural landscape and wildlife. National parks and conservation areas can be found across the country, and some hotels, such as the Montage Palmetto Bluff, even have a nature conservancy on site. The expansive Palmetto Bluff Conservancy offers weekly tours, as well as regular lectures on the land and history of Palmetto Bluff. Visitors can also participate in some of the conservancy's research projects, including monitoring bald eagle nests and surveying alligator and bird populations. 

"The 20,000 acres of Palmetto Bluff is a unique and special environment with amazing biodiversity," said conservancy director Jay Walea. "The Palmetto Bluff Conservancy is tasked with educating all who visit this special place on the importance of our history and our environment, so this legacy is carried on for years to come."

3. Befriend the Bees

Keep your attendees buzzing long after the event ends with a beekeeping activity. Visit Copenhagen points sustainable-minded meeting planners to Bybi's honey farm. Here, attendees can meet the bees, learn about the honey-production process and even taste variations from different parts of the city.

4. Go Sustainable Sightseeing

Eco-conscious event planners don't necessarily have to avoid the city's top attractions when planning a group outing. The Empire State Building in New York City, for example, offers an innovative, multimedia exhibit on sustainability on the way up to its observation deck.

"To host a green meeting activity, consider immersive and educational offsite experiences specific to the destination," said Sara Simkin, vice president, destination services at NYC & Company. "The [Empire State Building] experience looks at how the building has been retrofitted to achieve LEED Gold status, while simultaneously educating visitors on how to implement sustainable practices in their own homes."